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No Immediate Plans To Retire As Of Now: Ace Paddler Achanta Sharath Kamal

Photo Credit: Instagram

INDIA: Achanta Sharath Kamal, India’s prominent table tennis player, said he will draw “a lot of positives” from his loss in the third round of the Tokyo Olympic Games to China’s former world No. 1 and three-time world champion Ma Long.

In a match where Ma Long was seen shaking his head in irritation at points, Sharath Kamal put up a valiant fight against the defending Olympic champion, even taking a game from him before falling 1-4 in men’s singles.

“His legs were shaking,” Sharath Kamal, who is competing in his fourth Olympics, said on Tuesday. I could see him trembling. And I was pleased to have been able to place him in that situation.

“As far as this Olympics go, there are a lot of positives for me,” Sharath Kamal, who had reached the Round of 32 at the quadrennial showpiece for the first time, was quoted as saying by olympics.com.

“We were maybe a little unfortunate with the draw, running into the team that won the bronze in the first round of mixed doubles. And facing Long in the third round.”

The scores of 4-11 and 4-11 in the last two games of the match versus Ma Long, according to Sharath Kamal, did not reflect the closeness of the match.

“Against Long, I got myself into a good position. Even the fourth and fifth games were a lot closer than the score suggested. I think after winning the third game he just became a little more relaxed and started going for his shots.”

Sharath, who debuted in the 2004 Athens Olympics, stated that he had no plans to retire.

“I never said this is going to be my last Olympics, it’s mainly the media that has been saying that. I don’t think I have to retire just because I am 38 years of age. This is the most physically fit I have been and it has undoubtedly been my best Olympics. When I look back, there nothing I could have done more or done differently. I have no regrets.”


Borussia Düsseldorf Is My Second Home Says Indian legend Achanta Sharath Kamal

Photo Credit: Borussia Dusseldorf media team

INDIA: Indian table tennis legend Achanta Sharath Kamal will stay with table tennis record champions Borussia Düsseldorf for another year. The club and the leading Indian paddler have agreed to extend the contract, which will remain till the end of the season. This completes the squad for the new season upcoming ahead, 2021-22.

“Sharath is a great person and a great table tennis player. I am therefore very pleased to have a legend like him with us for another year. The discussion about continuing the cooperation did not last long, then it was clear: We will continue together,” said the manager, Andreas Prussia.

“He completes the team, like last time as a substitute player, and will not be in all games. We are planning to make selective missions to relieve our regular staff”, he added. These include former World No.1, Timo Boll, Kristian Karlsson, Anton Källberg and newcomer Dang Qiu.

Since 2013, India’s top paddler, 38-years-old, Achanta has been part of the Ensemble of Borussia Dusseldorf, only interrupted by the one-year guest performance in Bergneustadt 2017-18, and has played a huge part, a vital role in numerous titles during this time. Achanta greatest dream came true this season when he won the Champions League for the first ever time with Borussia, something none of the Indian table tennis players had ever achieved before. However, he could not participate in the tournament of the European premier class, which took place in Düsseldorf in December, because he was not allowed to travel from India due to the conditions of COVID-19. Moreover, Achanta hopes that he will be back at the table for his Borussia in the new season.

Photo Credit: Borussia Dusseldorf media team

“I am extremely happy to continue to be part of the team. Borussia is definitely my second home and I don’t know if I can ever play for another club because I’ll always be a borusse,” said Sharath Achanta . “And I very much hope that I can be more frequent in Dusseldorf and on the team in the next upcoming season than last time by the travel restrictions. I want to support the guys and help make it a successful year again”, he added.

Also Read: Achanta Sharath Kamal Loses In Pre-Quarters At WTT Contender

Borussia’s long-time favorite is still one of the best in its field. Achanta is currently number 32 in the world rankings and is looking forward to its fourth Olympic Games this summer after 2004, 2008 and 2016. With Borussia Düsseldorf, the father of two has won the Champions League once, has won five cups and four championship titles – another one could be added this season in the TTBL final on June 6th. The “Indian Tiger” has played 115 games for the state capitals so far, of which he has won 73.

In addition to professional sport, Achanta launched a humanitarian aid campaign in his hometown of Chennai at the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis to be there for those in need. To this day, the popular figure is fighting for the survival of the poorest – a fight that is becoming more difficult every day due to the spreading COVID-19 pandemic in India.


Ace Indian Paddler Sathiyan Gnanasekaran Seals Tokyo Olympics Spot

Photo Credit: Twitter

INDIA: Indian ace paddler Sathiyan Gnanasekaran has qualified for Tokyo Olympics after beating Pakistan’s Muhammad Rameez in straight 4-0 (11-5, 11-8, 11-9, 11-2) in the Asian Olympic Qualification tournament top group being held at Doha. G Sathiyan will compete in the men’s singles event of the Tokyo Olympics later this year.

Earlier, Tamil Naidu paddler G. Sathiyan beat compatriot Sharath Kamal 4-3(11-9, 15-13, 5-11, 7-11, 10-12, 11-9, 11-8) in the Asian Olympic Qualification tournament in Doha.

G. Sathiyan topped the South Asia group with two wins in as many matches. On the other hand, Sharath Kamal ended as the top-ranked second-placed player, handing him the sixth slot for Tokyo 2020.

This will be G. Sathiyan’s first-ever maiden Olympics while it will be the fourth one for the veteran, Sharath Kamal.

Representing your nation at the world’s biggest sporting event, which is Olympic Games is a feeling of pride and honor for every sportsperson. When a sportsperson represents his nation for the first time, it becomes extra special. G. Sathiyan also feels just the same for his nation.

Read Also: Achanta Sharath Kamal Loses In Pre-Quarters At WTT Contender

“It’s extremely special for me and in fact, this is definitely one of the best moments ever in my life for sure, it’s just priceless I don’t have many words about the feeling. It’s been a childhood dream for me to be a part of the Olympics and a lot of years of hard work and struggle have paid off and it’s eternal happiness. It’s a moment which I will cherish my whole life,” 28-year-old, G. Sathiyan told Transcontinental Times.

There have been always the support and ecosystem of trainers, coaches including family and friends for Sathiyan, who have pushed him in every sort of struggle and difficulty which made it possible for him to book the Olympic berth today.

“I thanked the entire team, my coaches, and especially my parents who were always there to support me in my ups and downs. Be it my personal coach S Raman sir, be it my fitness trainer Ramji Srinivasan, or my dietician Ryan Fernando including my mental fitness trainer, I would really like to thank dedicate this to all of them”, ace paddler, G. Sathiyan expressed his gratitude.

India’s second-highest-ranked female player from Bengal Sutirtha Mukherjee has also booked her maiden Olympic berth after beating compatriot and top-ranked Indian paddler Manika Batra in Asian Olympic Qualification Tournament in a thrilling match 4-2 (7-11, 11-7, 11-4, 4-11, 11-5, 11-4).

Now, all the top-four Indian table tennis players have booked their berths for the singles event. Meanwhile, 38-year-old, Sharath Kamal and Manika will be trying their best to qualify for mixed-doubles as well.


Achanta Sharath Kamal Loses In Pre-Quarters At WTT Contender Doha

Sharath Kamal
Photo Credit: Twitter

QATAR. Doha: Indian table tennis player Achanta Sharath Kamal has suffered a 6-11, 4-11, 8-11 defeat against World Rank-7, Lin Yun-Ju of Chinese Taipei in the men’s singles pre-quarters of the World Table Tennis (WTT) Contender, Doha on Thursday.

Sharath Kamal began the 2021 season with an impressive victory after defeating Czech Republic’s Pavel Sirucek 17-15, 9-11, 11-6, 8-11, 11-9 in the men’s singles opening round at the World Table Tennis Contender.

The World No. 32, Sharath, who was playing his first international tournament after a year’s break due to the coronavirus pandemic, was unable to gain momentum despite showing good resistance in the latter part of the match against the higher-ranked paddler Lin Yun-Ju. With Sharath’s loss, the Indian challenge came to an end in the tournament.

Top Indian paddler World No. 37, Sathiyan Gnanasekaran, who also secured a direct entry into the main draw alongside 2006 Commonwealth Games champion Sharath, suffered 11-7, 11-4, 11-8 loss at the hands of top-ranked, Nigerian paddler World No. 20, Aruna Quadri in the Round-of-32.

Read Also: Indian Paddler Manika Batra Clinches Her Second Women’s Nationals Table Tennis Title

Paddlers Manika Batra and Sreeja Akula also lost their opportunities to play further in final qualifying round matches in the women’s singles category respectively.

While Batra lost to World No. 69 Ganna Gaponova 5-11, 6-11, 14-12, 5-11, Akula, made her Russian opponent Mariia Tailkova work hard and almost got the momentum shifted in her favor with a come-from-behind 2-1 lead before losing the tie 9-11, 11-5, 11-6, 6-11, 5-11.

Another dynamic Indian paddler, Harmeet Desai had also suffered in the tournament with a 11-9, 11-7, 9-11, 8-11, 2-11 defeat against Russia’s Alexander Shibaev in the third-round match of the men’s singles qualifiers. Despite dominating the first two games, Desai couldn’t hold his nerves and conceded an unexpected loss.


Indian Paddler Manika Batra Clinches Her Second Women’s Nationals Table Tennis Title

Manika Batra
Manika Batra in action against Reeth Rishiya in the finals at Senior National table tennis championship. Photo credit: TTFI

INDIA: Top-ranked Indian paddler, Manika Batra clinched her second senior nationals title against Reeth Rishya of PSPB, 4-2 in the women’s singles final of the 82nd UTT Senior National Table Tennis Championships held at Pachkuly, Haryana on Thursday.

Also read: Kings XI Punjab Changes Its Name To Punjab Kings Ahead Of IPL Auction

Asian Games bronze medallist Manika, representing Petroleum Sports Promotion Board (PSPB), had earned her maiden title in 2015 at Hyderabad Nationals earlier and finished a runner-up at Ranchi in 2017 when she lost the final against Sutirtha Mukherjee.

The fifth game was a one-sided one as Manika pushed Reeth into a completely defensive mode, whereas she is an attacking player, so she felt herself in discomfort. Suddenly, Reeth’s attacking posture deserted her, and she looked like an ordinary player.

Also read: India To Miss ISSF World Cup In South Korea Due To Quarantine Protocols

Manika Batra posing after clinching Gold medal at 82nd senior table tennis nationals with Reeth Rishiya | Pic Credit: TTFI

Commonwealth Games Gold medallist cleverly changed her strategy when Reeth was consistently attacking in the second game which the latter won on extended points. The defence of Reeth could not be grasped and excessive net errors in the crucial stages also cost the current India rank-9, Reeth, the chance of becoming the national champion for the very first time in her career.

Also read: FC Goa Signs Glan Martins For The Rest Of The Season

The talented 25-year-old, Reeth lost the golden opportunity to avenge her title defeat at the Institutional Championship way back in 2019. There too, Reeth had let the crown slip off her hands after handsomely leading 3-1 in the final.


Kings XI Punjab Changes Its Name To Punjab Kings Ahead Of IPL Auction

KingsXI Punjab logo Punjab Kings
Photo Credit: Twitter

INDIA: Kings XI Punjab has unveiled its official new name and new logo on Twitter. The team will be called ‘Punjab Kings’ from the forthcoming edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL). According to the reports, the franchise has been opting for a change in name for a long time.

This move comes ahead of the IPL auctions that will be held in Chennai on February 18.

Kings XI Punjab is one of the eight franchise teams to have participated in the last edition of the T20 league in the UAE.

The team was planning to change the name for a long time and thought it should be done before this IPL. So it is not a sudden decision,” a BCCI source said in a statement.

The franchise, jointly owned by Mohit Burman, Ness Wadia, Preity Zinta, and Karan Paul, has failed to win an IPL title since the event’s inaugural edition in 2008.

Preity Zinta, one of the three owners of Punjab Kings tweeted the revealing of the team’s new logo. Photo Credit: Twitter

Read Also: Indian Premier League(IPL) Season-13 Begins With A Bang

In a statement on Wednesday, the franchise said: We are much more than a team, but a family which has come together and built a connection with our fans through our relentless hard work. The new brand logo and name are an extension to our undying spirit of fighting against all odds and celebrating the true spirit of Punjab.”

In the tournament’s 13-year history, Kings XI Punjab were runners-up once and achieved a third-place finish on another occasion.

Meanwhile, the upcoming season of IPL is set to kick-off in the second week of April, with the auction scheduled for Thursday.


FC Goa Signs Glan Martins For The Rest Of The Season

Image Credits: FC Goa media

INDIA. Goa: FC Goa has announced the signing of midfielder Glan Martins on a short-term deal. The Goan native will be a part of the FC Goa squad till the end of the season. Martins will wear the number 25 shirt for FC Goa.

Known for being a tough tackler who possesses a real big range with his passing, the Velsao native adds even more flair and grit to the Goa midfield.

Martins’ football career began at the SESA Football Academy in Goa. In 2014, he signed his first contract with Sporting Club de Goa. After catching the eye of the selectors with consistent performances for the Flaming Orange, the midfielder was moved to fellow Goan outfit Churchill Brothers SC ahead of the 2019-20 season. The tough-tackling midfielder had signed with ATK Mohun Bagan at the beginning of the season.

Speaking on his arrival to FC Goa, Glan Martins said, “I am extremely grateful for the chance. Having been an FC Goa fan right from the inception of the club, this is a dream come true for me. I can’t wait to put on the shirt and showcase my abilities. I have long been an admirer of the way the Club plays football and it completely aligns with what I feel are my strengths. This is a chapter in my life that I want to make full use of.”

Read Also: FC Goa Beat Jamshedpur 3-0, Jumps To Third On The Table

FC Goa Director of Football Ravi Puskur also welcomed Martins, saying, “We’re delighted to bring Glan to FC Goa until the end of the season. He is a very exciting and talented player whose gameplay completely suits the kind of football we look to play.”

Puskur also added that Martins was someone that the team had been tracking for some time. “He is very keen to come here and test himself and will be a great addition to the squad,” he added.


FC Goa Beat Jamshedpur 3-0, Jumps To Third On The Table

FC Goa Beat Jamshedpur 3-0, Jumps To Third On The Table
Photo credit: Twitter @IndianFootball

INDIA. Goa: FC Goa extended their unbeaten run to four games with a resounding 3-0 win over Jamshedpur FC.  A brace from Jorge Ortiz combined with Ivan Gonzalez’s first-ever goal in the Hero Indian Super League and Naveen Kumar’s fine show between the sticks saw the Gaurs rule the roost at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Fatorda, Goa.

Juan Ferrando rang in three changes for the game with Naveen Kumar getting his first start of the season in goal. The gaffer also brought back the experienced Lenny Rodrigues into the starting line-up alongside Alberto Noguera. Out stepped Princeton Rebello and Igor Angulo.

Jamshedpur came up with the first big opportunity in the game. The 10th minute saw Isaac Vanmalsawma test Naveen early on. A fierce shot looked to have been heading to the bottom left corner of the keeper before the man from Punjab flung himself to keep the game on level terms.

Read also: Minerva Academy Get Crucial Win Against International FC In Punjab Super League II Opener

Goa quickly answered back as Ortiz and Romario tested the Jamshedpur backline with incisive runs.

Ferrando’s decision to play Ortiz upfront would be vindicated in the 19th minute of the game as the Spaniard fired the Gaurs into the lead. Noguera showed his class as he first got the better of Ricky Lallawmawma before finding Ortiz in the middle of the box. The Spaniard took a calm first touch before slotting it past TP Rehenesh in the Jamshedpur goal.

At the other end, Naveen Kumar also vindicated Ferrando’s trust in him. The keeper pulled off another save, this time from point-blank range in the 25th minute to help Goa keep the lead.

The Gaurs characteristically kept the lion’s share of the possession for the rest of the half and strode into the dressing room with a 1-0 lead.

Gaurs build on the lead

Juan Ferrando’s men started the second half in a similar fashion as the first, dominating play right from the off. And their pressure paid dividends in the 52nd minute. Another sweeping move from the left saw Noguera play in Brandon, whose ball into the centre was neatly tucked away by the onrushing Ortiz for his second.

The Spaniard nearly got his hat-trick minutes later when Brandon again played in a ball into the centre. This time, Ortiz again found his way to the ball but a timely block from Eze stopped the score from reading 3-0.

Ortiz and Naveen continued to star for their side in the second half. The Spaniard saw two of his attempts blocked and then saved before going off in the 78th minute. Meanwhile, Naveen pulled off two brilliant saves in quick succession to keep Goa’s clean sheet.

Jamshedpur was reduced to 10 men in the 86th minute when Alexandre Lima was sent off for a second yellow of the game.

Ivan Gonzalez rounded off the resounding victory with his first-ever ISL goal in the 89th minute which he started from the back and finished off himself, with much aplomb.

The Spaniard did well to take the ball down near his own box before setting off a rampaging run. The centre back skipped past a couple of Jamshedpur players before playing in Noguera on the right edge of the box. The midfielder repaid the favour to play Gonzalez in and the defender finished the move off with a finish that even Angulo would have been proud of.

The win and Goa’s second clean sheet of the season mean that the Gaurs jump to the third spot on the table with 18 points from 11 games. The three points also see Juan Ferrando’s men create a four-point cushion from the teams pressing for a top-four spot.

FC Goa will next go up against ATK Mohun Bagan on Sunday, 17th January in Fatorda. The game is slated for a 7:30 pm kickoff.


Minerva Academy Get Crucial Win Against International FC In Punjab Super League II Opener

Photo Credit: Minerva Academy

INDIA: Buzzing on the back of their 6-0 thrashing of Sher-e-Punjab four days earlier, Minerva Academy Football Club took to the field against International FC for their first game in the Punjab Super League II.

Read Also: An Ode To The Greatest Footballer Of The Century

It was a familiar-looking first-team for Minerva Academy, as Surinder Singh – the technical director of coaching at Minerva – replaced Yan Law on the touchline.

The game had a great flow to it in the opening minutes, with both sides having decent spells of possession, but the away team was winning more aerial duels and looked physically more adept.

The first half of the game

It was the characteristic 4-3-3 formation for Minerva Academy. But, the front three of Nikhil Mali, Victor Ekombong, and Radhakanta were unable to an impact. Due to this, the pendulum was slowly swinging in International’s favor, as they piled on the pressure at the other end.

Surinder Singh decided to make an early tactical substitution. Ekomobong’s afternoon didn’t even last thirty minutes. Hence, he was replaced by Mohit Sharma to play through the center, and Minerva Academy instantly looked more coordinated in the attack.

However, they were guilty of giving away cheap possession and making mistakes in dangerous positions in the first half, which finally cost them dearly just before half time, when a shot came in from the right. Suraj Mallick was well-positioned to save it at the near post. However, he spilled it, and it fell kindly to a yellow shirt for an easy tap-in.

International FC went into halftime with a well deserved 1-0 lead.

Minerva fight back to equal the score

It was no surprise that there was a substitution for Minerva Academy before the start of the second half. Subham Chetry, who did not have a very impressive first half from midfield, was replaced by Sreyas G – the tall striker who had two goals to his name back in the 2018/19 AFC Cup for Minerva Academy.

The change meant that Radhakanta moved into midfield and Mohit shifted to the right, and Minerva Academy finally looked their sharpest selves again in the second half – controlling the tempo and keeping possession. The home team kept getting progressively better as the game wore on, and they came very close to equalising when Nikhil Mali’s cross was met by Sreyas, who acrobatically struck the ball and hit the crossbar.

Minerva Academy’s persistence was eventually rewarded, when Lalrinchanna scooped the ball through the centre and Mohit Sharma was in behind the two centre halves. He was through on goal and a tug of his jersey led to the refereee pointing to the spot for a penalty.

Minerva’s Academy’s finest talent, Anwar Ali, stepped up for it, and a few moments later, the goalkeeper was picking the ball out of his net. He had guessed the right way, but Anwar’s penalty was strong and precise to the keeper’s left.

It was 1-1 in the 72nd minute.

Minerva’s fantastic win

More pressure followed from the home team, as their hold on the game strengthened, and it was in the 89th minute that they played the winning move. A low cross from Nikhil Pal was driven into the box and Sreyas was on the end of it to swing it home with his left foot.

It was 2-1 – International looked tired and helpless, and it didn’t take very long for Minerva Academy to pounce and kill the game off. Mohit, very direct and full of running, sent a cross in and Sreyas was there again to tap it in for his second goal and Minerva’s third in injury time.

In a game of two halves, the final score was 3-1 and Minerva Academy registered their first win in the Punjab Second Division. They will now look to build on this, as an 11-day rest period is followed by their next fixture on the 6th of Jan in Amritsar.